4 Factors to Help You Value a Business During a Divorce

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By Dane E. Leitner

Generally, people in Florida have an understanding that if you get divorced, there is a premise that the marital assets and liabilities will be distributed equally unless there is a valid basis for an unequal distribution.

However, a common question is:

What is my equal value of a business that was formed by only one spouse during the marriage?

If only one spouse is involved in the business, the other spouse likely thinks that the business is worth a lot more than it really is.  And the spouse that is involved in the business is most likely proud of its financial stability any other day, but come time for divorce, all of a sudden it’s a business that is worth nothing.

Below are four common factors to consider that may help in calculating your business valuation or come into play during your divorce proceedings:

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1 in 17:  Antisocial Personality Disorder (ASPD) in Family Court

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By Eddie Stephens, Esquire and Dr. Michael O’Hara Jr., Psy.D.

Originally published in the Family Law Section’s, The Commentator (Fall, 2016, page 23).

Stephens: Antisocial personality disorder (ASPD) is a personality disorder defined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) as a pervasive pattern of disregard for, or violation of, the rights of others. An impoverished moral sense or conscience is often apparent, as well as a history of crime, legal problems, and/or impulsive and aggressive behavior.

Approximately 3% of males and 1% of females in the United States suffer from this disorder.  As with any psychological disorder, the stress of a divorce often magnifies harmful consequences that accompany the behaviors associated with this disorder.

For every 17 divorce cases an attorney handles, 1 of the parties will be affected by this disorder. When an attorney comes across 1 of the 17, it is important for that attorney to have an understanding of the psychopathy in order to navigate the many obstacles this scenario presents. Continue reading

How the Brad Pitt / Angelina Jolie Divorce Will Impact Family Law

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By Eddie Stephens

When you spawn with another you will be tied to them forever.

This gets complicated when the relationship between the parents fails.

The State of Florida protects parents and their relationships.  In fact, Florida Law provides:

It is the public policy of this state that each minor child has frequent and continuing contact with both parents after the parents separate or the marriage of the parties is dissolved and to encourage parents to share the rights and responsibilities, and joys, of childrearing.

Establishing parental responsibility over the children is a major issue in the dissolution of a marriage.  Parental responsibility includes who gets to make decisions over a child’s life, such as what school the child(ren) should attend or what medical treatment(s) are appropriate.

Decision-making authority can be granted to one parent if the decision making of the other parent has proven to be detrimental to the child(ren).

This does not mean one parent is granted sole custody if the other parent is seemingly not as good a parent or has a substance abuse issue or has a volatile temper. Continue reading

So You Are Thinking About Getting Married?

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By Eddie Stephens

So you are thinking about getting married?

Marriage is more than two people pledging love and devotion to each other; it is the formation of a legal relationship.  Because the State of Florida has an interest in protecting and maintaining its citizens and in protecting and advancing families, upon your marriage, the state has many laws that regulate what will happen to a person’s estate when the dissolution of the marriage is sought or when a spouse dies.

In other words, getting married has many consequences on the ownership of your money and possessions, the way you will raise your children, and the way you will relate to your partner.  These rules are complicated and convoluted.  A basic understanding of these rules is necessary for anyone contemplating this type of union. Continue reading

Impact of Ashley Madison Hack on Florida Divorce Court

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By Eddie Stephens, Esquire

AshleyMadison.com, the website for cheaters, fell victim to a hack and ALL of it’s data (as of July 11, 2015) has been made available via bit torrent technology.

Multiple sources have confirmed on Twitter that their credit card number and personal information are within the data.

The data also includes more than 9,600,000 credit card transactions since March of 2008. This detailed information includes name, street address, amount paid and email address for each transaction.

Since Florida is a “no-fault” divorce state, the impact on this state in the courtroom will be minimal.  It will be interesting to see how the public consumes, analyzes and reports on this information over the next few weeks.  Will the revelation of infidelity, or even just the thought that your spouse would register on a website like AshleyMadison.com, have an impact on a spouse’s decision to divorce?  This question that will certainly be answered in the upcoming months.

This hack should make one thing perfect clear.  Your personal information is always very vulnerable.  Take necessary precautions.

And if by chance you registered an account on Ashley Madison AFTER July 11th…. you got real lucky this time!

Eddie Stephens is a partner at Ward Damon who is Board Certified in Family and Marital Law and has developed a successful family law practice focused on highly disputed divorces.  If you need help with marital or family matters, you may reach Eddie at EStephens@warddamon.com or call 561-842-3000.